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Archive for July, 2010

Inspired by hairstyles in a production of Anything Goes, I followed through on a desire left over from childhood. I asked my stylist to teach me how to put finger waves in my hair. She wisely recommended a perm first and demonstrated the technique.

The surprise came on Sunday when the entire congregation gave their comments on the new style. I expected favor from the older women who keep hair short and curled. The men offered interesting reactions.

“I like it. It makes you look younger.”
“Nice. You look like a teenager.” This one from a man in his 70s.

Great words to hear even if untrue when facing ones own 57 birthday.

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We didn’t plan to stay broke. We were broke in college and it was cool. The challenge of making cheap meals, and date nights with little expense was fun.

We each tried various jobs. He ended up leaving the teaching degree behind to work in sales & estimating at a lumber yard. I concentrated on raising children with jobs on the side. We ended up with 6 blessings, astounding our friends who limited family to 3 or less.

Being lower middle class in income was stressful sometimes but the joy of family, friends, and church in a moderately sized college town made money issues hardly worth noticing.

That was our problem. We didn’t like to talk about money because it came between us. So we didn’t talk about it. I would stress and emote. He would casually declare it would all work out and the details usually did. What we missed completely was the big picture.

No emergency fund – so everything was an emergency. No saving for retirement – so we are now playing catch-up. No planning for college education – so each of our children began their independent life with debt.

A book by Larry Burkett http://www.crown.org/ challenged us to tithe. If the guy was serious, we risked nothing. Within months after putting God first in our finances we were offered a chance to get a home with sweat equity and monthly payments equal to our current rent. We redid a bathroom, installed a furnace and the place was ready for life. I was pregnant with child #3. The house definitely had life inside and out by the time #6 was born.

We saved (on paper) plenty of money over the next few years as rental prices escalated, but we didn’t save any in a bank. Steve started seminary with school loans and became pastor in a small rural parish. Years later, I felt called into ministry and added my own schooling to our growing load of debt.

We traded cars, never quite getting the old one paid off before wear and tear caused us to upgrade. We didn’t buy new until I caught car fever in October of 2002. It was a “close-out deal” and I had “only 24 hours” before the sale ended. Ha.

Driving my beautiful new car with no child stains or time-worn exterior, I heard Dave for the first time. “Sell the car.”

I listened because it made no sense! I continued to listen day after day because it made no sense to me, yet the people spoke of hope and bright futures. I identified with the “stupid tax” stories and felt my own hope rise with each “We’re debt free” yell.

I began to imagine $100 bills floating out my car window as I drove. But I wasn’t trading new car for newer car. I planned to keep this one until it rusted out from under me. Didn’t I make a smart car buy…

Less than 7 years later, on June 3, 2009, we were driving that car when someone ran into us. The airbags saved us from worse injuries and we have recovered well physically. The insurance settlement helped us pay off a few debts and get us straight with this year’s taxes.

I looked up the value of that sweet new car. Purchase price $16,000. Value after being totaled 7 years later – $ 4420. We still had a loan payoff balance of 10,729.

I sold the car, all right. We had to refinance the balance adding a paid off car to guarantee the loan.

We now have an emergency fund of $1000. We are able to talk about finances in better ways. It still isn’t fun but we sit on the same side of the table and face the problems together instead of money coming between us. We are trying to live on a budget with much ups and downs. We are on the road for Baby Step #2 looking forward to being debt free!

also posted on : My Total Money Makeover journal

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